I've argued before that saving money makes us more mindful of our consumption. I've also made the case that reuse can quickly become hoarding, and that sometimes the best approach is to throw something away — or at least to donate or regift it. In a guest post over at Get Rich Slowly, reader Claire Brown explains how she learned to be frugal by throwing stuff away. As usual, the lessons about frugality are equally well applied to living green. Recounting how a series of 10 house moves between the ages of 20 and 35 lead her to evaluate and reevaluate all the stuff she owned, Brown explains how she learned frugality from decluttering.

  • Why did I have all this stuff that I never used from one year to the next?
  • How on earth had I managed to buy all this on my modest income?
  • I had never had 19 people drinking champagne in my flat at one time, so why did I feel the need to have 19 champagne flutes?
  • Why did I keep running out of cardboard boxes?
Brown goes on to explain how this newfound appreciation of exactly how much she can accumulate, and what she actually owns, has lead her to buy less, borrow more, and generally appreciate what she has — and think hard about acquiring what she hasn't.

Sure, if hers were explicitly a post about sustainable lifestyles, there might be more emphasis on donating to the thrift store — but then a focus on frugality might also suggest she should resell rather than throw away. Most likely, she did just that — but her point is not really to discuss the best way to dispose of your stuff, but rather the importance of disposing of your stuff in the first place.

It really is important to learn to love your stuff. But that love comes so much easier when there is less stuff to love.

This story was originally written for Treehugger. Copyright 2011.